Willem Vos was born in Broek in Waterland on 10 March 1940. Because of the many lakes, canals and waterways, everyone in Broek had a boat, and it was the wooden yawls and scows of farmers and fishermen that most piqued Willem's interest. Wood, ships and history are the elements with which he grew up.
In 1968, Willem Vos started his own company constructing wooden and polyester boats. However, in that period of innovation and modernisation, there was less and less demand for handmade boats. When he went to the bank to ask for credit, he was told bluntly that his profession belonged in a museum.
Then it hit him: if he could successfully build a large 17th-century ship using only 17th-century materials and methods, people would be more than prepared to pay to see this kind of work in action. Willem Vos decided that he would reconstruct the East Indiaman Batavia - a project that was to develop into a unique experiment in historical shipbuilding.
When Willem Vos retired as master shipbuilder of Batavia Yard in 2003, the board of directors decided to establish a foundation, the Willem Vos Foundation, which aims to promote knowledge of wooden shipbuilding, in particular that of the 17th and 18th centuries. For more information, please visit www.willemvosfonds.nl.